Whistleblowers Expose USAID's Pervasive Hidden Failures

USAID commodities at the Port-au-Prince airport are readied for distribution, January 17, 2010. (Photo: Candice Villarreal/US Navy/Public Domain)

Whistleblowers Expose USAID's Pervasive Hidden Failures

Between 2011 and 2013, inspector general's office hid negative findings about USAID programs from the public, Washington Post investigation finds

Internal documents and whistleblowers reveal that the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, which is tasked with overseeing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)'s billions in civilian foreign aid, is abrogating its watchdog duties by censoring audits and reports to hide findings that reflect negatively on that agency, according to an investigative article published Wednesday in the Washington Post.

"Eight current auditors and employees" anonymously told the Post that information deemed unfavorable to USAID has been removed from audits from 2011 to 2013, according to the Post. "In some cases, the findings were put into confidential 'management letters' and financial documents, which are sent to high-ranking USAID officials but are generally kept from public view," journalists Scott Higham and Steven Rich report. Under the tenure of acting inspector Michael G. Carroll, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has grown increasingly soft on the agency, according to whistleblowers. Carroll withdrew his nomination to become permanent inspector general on Wednesday.

"The office is a watchdog not doing its job," Darren Roman, an audit supervisor at the inspector general's office who retired in 2012, told the Post. "It's just easier for upper management to go along to get along. The message is: 'Don't make waves, don't report any problems.'"

The Post obtained a dozen draft audits, which are not publicly shared, from the OIG covering international projects between 2011 and 2013, ranging from a program to address waste and fraud in U.S. aid to Pakistan to an agricultural program in Haiti to a $4.6 million payment to free detained NGO workers in Egypt. The audit drafts were then compared with the publicly released final reports. According to the Post's analysis, "more than 400 negative references were removed from the audits between the draft and final versions."

The report states: "At the USAID inspector general's office, several auditors and employees told the Post that their authority has been undermined, and some have hired attorneys to file whistleblower and employment discrimination claims."

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